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Still We Danced Forward: World War II and the Writer's Life

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A critical look at six of this century's greatest writers and how the hardships of war influenced their works. The lives of Steinbeck, Mann, Woolf, Colette, Hemingway, and Pound from a new perspective.
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Overview

A critical look at six of this century's greatest writers and how the hardships of war influenced their works. The lives of Steinbeck, Mann, Woolf, Colette, Hemingway, and Pound from a new perspective.
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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
YA-In-depth discussions of the works of Thomas Mann, John Steinbeck, Virginia Woolf, Colette, Ernest Hemingway, and Ezra Pound as a reflection of the World War II zeitgeist. The book is useful as a research source for literate teens seeking a point of view beyond basic facts. It's full of fascinating details about these writers and the times in which they wrote.-Catherine Charvat, King's Park Library, Burke, VA
Booknews
Examines the effects of WWII on six of the 20th century's most important writers: Thomas Mann, John Steinbeck, Virginia Woolf, Collette, Ernest Hemingway, and Ezra Pound. These writers endured emotional upheaval and ideological disillusionment during the war, yet, for most of them, WWII provided a backdrop for an extraordinarily fertile creative period. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Kirkus Reviews
An uncritical assemblage of information about six famous writers and how they spent the years of fascism's rise and WW II.

These portraits do little more than juxtapose summaries of the subjects' careers with hackneyed chronologies of the war. A wide middle ground of context and interpretation seems missing between the writers' own accounts—the diaries and letters Sonnenberg largely relies upon—and the rote unfolding of history. With Hemingway and Ezra Pound, life and war are inherently intertwined, but others test the foundation of Sonnenberg's project. The detachment of Virginia Woolf and the adamant passivity of Colette are curious but don't bear the tedious recounting given here. Apart from his abortive stint as a war correspondent, Steinbeck comes off as irrelevant to such a study. After a detailed account of Pound's increasingly wild behavior through the war years, his "Pisan Cantos" simply appear, deus ex machina, as transcendent art; Sonnenberg has little to say about how they emerged from what came before. Most odd is Sonnenberg's cultish adulation of Thomas Mann as both an artist and an anti-fascist. Her literary analysis is mostly plot summary, decorated by useless adjectives of praise, like "awesome"—in Mann's case, piled so absurdly high as to give the whole book an unsettling cast of eccentricity. Propped up here and there by phrases about artists' relationship to their times and their societies, the studies do not spring from, nor do they produce, much coherent thought about such things and are even startlingly contradictory: Colette's "neutrality" is explained sympathetically, but Sonnenberg later declares that "one either opposed fascism with all one's might or one became a swarmy [sic] accomplice."

Trite in style as well as content, this resembles nothing more than a series of overgrown book reports.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781574880137
  • Publisher: Potomac Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/28/1998
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 6.11 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction
Ch. 1 Thomas Mann: On a Mission from God 1
Ch. 2 John Steinbeck: America Against itself 51
Ch. 3 Virginia Woolf: The Outsider's Lament 88
Ch. 4 Colette: The Survivor 119
Ch. 5 Ernest Hemingway: War As an Aphrodisiac 146
Ch. 6 Ezra Pound: The Trains Ran on Time 193
Ch. 7 Thomas Mann: Disillusionment 229
Notes 247
Bibliography 282
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